New Mo. firehouse will have sleeping quarters


By Susan Weich
St. Louis Post-Dispatch 

WARRENTON, Mo. — Fire officials broke ground Tuesday on a new firehouse that will boast three times the space of the current station, including sleeping quarters that will allow 24-hour staffing.

The new Station 2 at 26625 South Highway 47, will be about a mile north of the old house, a converted automobile repair shop built in the 1940s.

"Bay doors were narrower and shorter then," said Fire Chief Mike Owenby of the Warrenton Fire Protection District. "On most of our trucks we've got to fold the side mirrors in as far as we can get them, and even then they only clear the doors by an inch and a half."

A recently purchased 1984 model ladder truck is too long and too tall for the current garage, so it has to be parked at another station farther away from the commercial district.

In addition, a widening project being considered for South Highway 47 would take away three-fourths of the parking at the current station.

Owenby said the station can't be modified because of a lack of room to expand at the site.

"We have literally outgrown that building," he said.

So the district has moved forward to build an 11,500-square-foot station on a three-acre site it bought for $119,000 three years ago. The building will cost $1.9 million and should be complete in 10 months.

The station will be bought through a lease-purchase plan that will be paid off over 15 years, Owenby said.

The fire district covers 124 square miles, including Warrenton, Truesdale, Pendleton and parts of Innsbrook. The area covers more than half the 27,000 people living in the county, Owenby said.

"We are growing along with the county," he said.

Although the fire district has only three full-time firefighters now, the new station will include sleeping quarters in anticipation of a growth spurt in the district.

Initially, the plan is for some of the district's 50-plus volunteers to use those beds. They will spend the night and then go on to their regular jobs in the daytime, Owenby said.

The rooms are designed larger than usual so that in an emergency, the station could house up to 18 firefighters, some sleeping on cots.

In addition, the station will have a classroom for training and will be equipped to act as a backup location for a dispatching center for emergency personnel.

Owenby said plans have not been finalized for the old Station 2 yet but that it may be used as a maintenance and storage facility or it could be sold, he said. 

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